Thoughtless?

For all my devote followers out there, no I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. So where, you might ask did Thoughts of the Season 7-12 go? Well, rest assured I had thoughts. Really great, fantastic ones. But my writing time over the rest of winter break was devoted to writing book 6. What can I say? I got hooked…sometimes when I get into writing my story I just can’t get out.

For those of you who feel cheated, let down by the missing Thoughts of the Season, I will give my bulleted short list here. Be prepared for mind blowing opinions.

Thought #7 – Board Games

One of my favorite thing to do over the holidays is get together with friends and family and game. Here’s my top choices for group games this year…okay, last year:

  1. Tribond
  2. The Game of Things
  3. Pit
  4. Ticket to Ride
  5. Rook
Thought #8 – Alone Time

Here’s my Top 5 list of my favorite things to do when I get a chance to do my own thing:

  1. Write (sitting on my couch, foot stool up, a hot cup of tea and some dark COVERchocolate…ahhh, good times.)
  2. Read (I just started Daughter of Shadow by Tyler Sehn, looking forward to really sinking my teeth in it as it were…once I can stop writing.)
  3. Warm Bubble bath (a really nice happy place to ease tired and sore muscles and relax for awhile.)
  4. Playing my drums (yep, you heard me. Crank the tunes and let me butcher the beat as I rock out.)
  5. Bingeing on Netflix (I love to spend 10 hours straight delving into story – Thank you Jessica Jones for this seasons binge.)

 

Thought #9 – Homemade Gifts

Every Christmas I make at least one gift. This year it was to my mom. Thanks Kelley for the inspiration. This bouquet is all paper flowers, origami style!

Thought #10 – Gifts Received

My family was very thoughtful this year from cowbells to board games. My most unique present? Scavenger lottery tickets! Santa put the first clue in my stocking and then I spent my morning searching for each clue attached with a scratch ticket. Here are 5 of my favorite locations that I found my clues:

  1. Treasure island book on my bookcase
  2. My own book – Journey to Kokoroe
  3. My jewellery box
  4. In the tree
  5. My sock drawer

Did someone say ‘More Cowbell?’ (Last one of the top 10)

Thought #11 – Best Chocolates of the Season

I love chocolate so here’s a thought dedicated to the ones I savor every year:

  1. Chocolate covered cherries
  2. After Eights
  3. Turtles
  4. Lindor Dark Chocolate
  5. Terry’s Chocolate Orange
Thought #12 – New Year’s Resolutions

How many times have you made the same resolution? I lost count…but I usually manage to stick to them for four or five months so it’s worth the thought 😉

  1. Eat less sugar (that’s a challenge…see thought #11)
  2. Build muscle (if I stock up on body building magazines, does that count?)
  3. Read one classic book  a month (this is on top of my regular reading)
  4. Finish Book 6 of the Essence of Galenia series (I’m halfway through the first draft so well on my way!)
  5. Publish Book 4 of the Essence of Galenia series  (yes I write two ahead of what I’m publishing – makes it easier to do foreshadowing and ensure continuity)

That’s it for my Thoughts of the Season, consider your mind blown!

12 Thoughts of the Season – #6

The holiday break allows us time to catch up on all our movie viewing, visit the box office for the new releases and snuggle under warm blankets at home to watch the classics. My Top 5 Holiday Movie list does have some Christmas classics, but it also contains any movie where the holidays come up. These are shows I tend to watch every season depending on what kind of mood I’m in. Be prepared: although I’ve included the fun there is also the sappy and the damn the man spirit (after a full day of crazy shopping malls and traffic jams sometimes you need a little dark humour…)

  1. Love Actually
    • Not a season goes by that I don’t watch this romantic, heart wrenching love story. It’s funny & honest. I cry, I laugh.
  2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    • Dr. Seuss was a talented writer and could pass on meaningful life lessons in short and humorous stories. Of course when I watch this I look under my tree with the generous loot and feel a bit guilty knowing if it was empty I don’t think I’d be happy and singing…
  3. The Ref
    • Okay, here’s the dark comedy. This show isn’t meant for those who easily take offense and like their Christmas specials to be all carols and magic. Dennis Leary has a knack for stringing together a long list of profanities, but if you’re holidays (or your life for that matter) has ever been less than perfect or you’ve ever had the urge to tell someone to gag your mother, then you might get a kick out of this holiday movie.
  4. Sleepless In Seattle/When Harry Met Sally
    • I couldn’t chose between the two of these rom/coms. Even though neither of them are set exclusively at Christmas, I think of them every year with Meg Ryan singing ‘horses, horses, horse’ or dragging a tree down the road through the snow.
  5. Elf
    • Aside from the Grinch, this is one of those shows I watch with the kids every year. There are jokes for both kids and adults alike making it a great movie belonging on my holiday viewing list. How many movies can boast about singing a duet in a shower scene and show it in a kid-friendly way?

There are also those fantastic Epic Trilogies (or more) that my fellow binge watchers would agree are great escapes: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Godfather.

12 Thoughts of the Season – #5

Poor Emily was burdened with so many unpractical gifts (see yesterdays post), but did she even stop and think about how much her dear Edward had to fork over to lavish her with such oddities? The fact that she ended it with a lawyer shows a lack of empathy on her part; Edwards heart was in the right place, even if his head wasn’t. I think a return gift of some medical help would have been what a true love would do!

In reality, the carol itself dates back to around the 16th Century. Christmas was celebrated over twelve days and if living in a wealthy castle one could receive gifts on each day. If you think of the song taking place in the middle ages, in a castle, doesn’t this just sound like one heck of a party? Today it would end much more like Emily’s letters. With inflation, Edward would have to be very wealthy indeed. And those poor, hard working milk maids…they’d probably have to moonlight as ladies dancing!

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12 Thoughts of the Season – #4

Okay, now it’s time for a little comedy. There’s no doubt about it, the holidays are stressful. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or have enough green to put on a lavish celebration, there is plenty of pressure to go around: the roads are crowded as traffic increases taking passengers to their holiday celebrations and shopping, accidents go up, line-ups are long, housework has quadrupled since we’ve added all the extra baking, decorating and paraphernalia into our homes. As we stand in a crowd of people caroling, we desperately try to stay on key and fake our way through the unknown lyrics of songs we’ve heard our whole lives. We try to live up to our children’s expectations of the magic and whimsy they’ve been promised and attempt to play the perfect host to all the guests we’ve invited to share in our holiday fun. And to top it all off, we insist on portraying the joy and carefree attitude we may or may not feel. Sound rather dispirited? Is there a Scrooge behind these words? Not at all! My point, if I have one, is that it is important to set aside a moment—some time in your busy, crazy schedule, to stop. Breath. And find a way to laugh. Here is one of my favorite comedy moments that puts a smile on my tired face and reminds me not to take it all too seriously.

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
(A Correspondence)
by
John Julius Norwich

25th December.
My dearest darling,
That partridge, in that lovely little pear tree! What an enchanting, romantic, poetic present! Bless you and thank you.
Your deeply loving Emily.

26th December.
Mr dearest darling Edward,
The two turtle doves arrived this morning and are cooing away in the pear tree as I write. I’m so touched and grateful.
With undying love, as always, Emily.

27th December.
My darling Edward,
You do thinks of the most original presents: whoever thought of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come all the way from France? It’s a pity that we have no chicken coops, but I expect we’ll find some. Thank you, anyway, they’re lovely.
Your loving Emily.

28th December.
Dearest Edward,
What a surprise – four calling birds arrived this morning. They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly – they make telephoning impossible. But I expect they’ll calm down when they get used to their new home. Anyway, I’m very grateful – of course I am.
Love from Emily.

29th December.
Dearest Edward,
The postman has just delivered five most beautiful gold rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly. A really lovely present – lovelier in a way than birds, which do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I’m afraid none of use got much sleep last night. Mummy says she wants us to use the rings to ‘wring’ their necks – she’s only joking, I think; though I know what she means. But I love the rings. Bless you.
Love, Emily.

30th December.
Dear Edward,
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door this morning, it certainly wasn’t six socking great geese laying eggs all over the doorstep. Frankly, I rather hoped you had stopped sending me birds – we have no room for them and they have already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant well, but – let’s call a halt, shall we?
Love, Emily.

31st December.
Edward,
I thought I said no more birds; but this morning I woke up to find no less than seven swans all trying to get into our tiny goldfish pond. I’d rather not thinks what happened to the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds – to say nothing of what they leave behind them. Please, please STOP.
Your Emily.

1st January.
Frankly, I think I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight milkmaids – AND their cows? Is this some kind of a joke? If so, I’m afraid I don’t find it very amusing.
Emily

2nd January.

Look here Edward, this has gone far enough. You say you’re sending me nine ladies dancing; all I can say is that judging from the way they dance, they’re certainly not ladies. The village just isn’t accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless hussies with nothing on but their lipstick cavorting round the green – and it’s Mummy and I who get blamed. If you value our friendship – which I do less and less – kindly stop this ridiculous behaviour at once.
Emily

3rd January.
As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are prancing abour all over what used to be the garden – before the geese and the swans and the cows got at it; and several of them, I notice, are taking inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids. Meanwhile the neighbours are trying to have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.
Emily

4th January.
This is the last straw. You know I detest bagpipes. The place has now become something between a menagerie and a madhouse and a man from the Council has just declared it unfit for habitation. At least Mummy has been spared this last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an ambulance. I hope you’re satisfied.

5th January.
Sir,
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you that with the arrival on her premises a half-past seven this morning of the entire percussion section of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and several of their friends she has no course left open to her but to seek an injunction to prevent your importuning her further. I am making arrangements for the return of much assorted livestock.

I am, Sir, Yours faithfully,
G.CREEP
Solicitor-at-law

12 Thoughts of the Season.

‘Tis the season! For the next 12 days I will share with you my holiday thoughts and good cheer. Today’s thought is around Christmas or other holiday traditions. Putting lights on the house, setting up a tree, opening presents on Christmas day —all fairly standard customs. I like starting my own family traditions so here are two of my favorites; feel free to share your own!

  1. On Christmas Eve, each member of my family takes turns being interviewed. We set up the video camera and three of us ask the chosen candidate all sorts of questions. Who are your friends? What do you want to be when you grow up? Tell us about your favorite adventure that you had this year? Weve been doing this since my kids were very little. The questions they ask are almost as entertaining as the answers they give!
  2. Another Christmas Eve custom we have is to open one present. I remember getting to do this when I was a kid, but I’ve put a new, somewhat less exciting, spin on it. The gift is always Pjs. The reason I like doing this is so that everyone can have new, clean pajamas to sleep in and they look great for all the pictures Christmas morning 🙂

Top 5 Grammar Challenges

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Grammar was never my strong area of expertise. The more I write, edit and re-write and edit some more, the better I am at polishing this skill. There are a few things that I’ve encountered that often trip me up or seem to be a bane to writers everywhere. This week’s Top 5 takes a look at the ones that I found most noteworthy.

  1. The Semicolon;

    • Between speaking with writers, reading many online discussions and my own experience, it is quiet clear that this seemingly harmless punctuation mark causes a lot of problems. Personally I love the semicolon; I like adding additional thoughts onto previous ones. The use of it can be controversial and some people find it too complex and avoid using it all together. For a great explanation on How to use a Semicolon, check out The Oatmeal.
  2. However

    • I like this word. I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I started doing a word frequency search on a rough draft of one of my manuscripts. It was used in every chapter at least once. My editor pointed out how this word can really stop the flow of a sentence or idea and I should cut back on the use of it — and this was after I already had. After huffing and puffing about the criticism, I realized she was right. Now I’m much more cautious with how I use this word. But the problems with it it don’t end there. My grammar issue with this world relates back to the dreaded semicolon. I remember distinctively being taught in school that commas surround the word ‘however’, but this is not always the case. My editor made several corrections in my work; however I was still baffled. I scrolled through other well-known novels and saw discrepancies on the punctuation around this useful word.  After researching and trying to determine who was right, I think I’ve finally figured it out. Check out this blog on Daily Writing Tips to put you in the know.
  3. Noddedcats.gif

    • It wasn’t until I started writing a novel that I realized how many times people nod when they talk or think. This reflexive head bobbing only appears as an odd obsession when you start writing out dialogue in a story. If you’re like me and picture a scene as you are writing it, you will see a bunch of nodding, but if you note it down every time your writing becomes repetitive and seems rather pedantic. I thought maybe it was just me and perhaps it spoke of an inept ability to write…then I started pouring over highly acclaimed writing. Guess what? People nodded in their books too! And now my attention has been drawn to it, I think people nod too much (in books and IRL lol). Unfortunately, there’s no quick work around to replace this word. There are other things to write instead of ‘nodded’, but I have yet to find a blog to point you to for advice…I may have to write it myself (gasp!).
  4. Accept vs Except

    • I accept that there is a very clear indication when these words are used, except I can still get them completely mixed up. After the red pen has pointed out my predictable confusion of which word to use, you’d think I would learn…alas they can still trip me up. What’s strange is that when they have been used correctly, how to use them makes perfect sense to me—of course that’s how to use that word! However, when I’m in the thick of it, the reasoning is blurred. Thank goodness I have a patient editor to help me with these things!
  5. Ellipsis vs Em Dash

    • The more I write the clearer it is to me that some things are more about personal preference than a matter of right or wrong…or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. Especially when you are writing dialogue or someone’s thoughts these useful tools can add a much needed pause or addition —interrupting when someone is speaking is another use for the em dash. The Punctuation Guide is a good resource for how to use an em dash. So why, you may ask, is this a challenge? Sometimes I like trailing thoughts when a character speaks. It’s not that they are interrupted, it’s as if they have more to say, but are holding back or expect another character to finish the thought for them.
      • “Where you going to eat that last chocolate or…”
    • The challenge comes in with putting a period after the quotation marks: “Where you going to eat that last chocolate or…”. I just don’t like the way this looks. Another option is to add a forth dot: “Where you going to eat that last chocolate or….” But this example is actually a question so perhaps there should be a ? at the end of that sentence. If this gets your head spinning you may want to refer to the The Punctuation Guide for a full explanation on how the ellipsis can be used.
Please share your own grammar challenges in the comments or add your thoughts to my Top 5!